Steve Smith is congratulated by his wife Dani Willis after scoring 144 runs in the first innings of the first Test. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Steve Smith is congratulated by his wife Dani Willis after scoring 144 runs in the first innings of the first Test. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Ashes stars switch partnership focus

THE wives and girlfriends join the Australian Ashes squad this weekend as part of a scheduled "partner period" ahead of the Lord's Test.

Some of the Australian players have been abroad for three months, having left for Gallipoli on May 9 and then taking part in the World Cup tournament.

David Warner's wife, Candice, travelled to England in June and gave birth to their third child, while Steve Smith's wife, Dani, watched his heroic batting efforts from the Edgbaston stands.

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But other partners are only now starting to arrive and will stay at the team hotel in London.

Australian coach Justin Langer, who is also enjoying a mini-break with his family while the team completes a tour game in Worcester, said planning the presence of loved ones had been an important piece of the tour puzzle.

"It's brilliant having the families around. Everyone does it differently, and we talk about having a big family. It's a tricky thing trying to get the balance," Langer said.

"Different people have different views on it. There's a little bit of time away, that's part of the gig."

David Warner celebrates with his wife Candice Warner and daughters Indi and Ivy after day five of the First Ashes Test. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
David Warner celebrates with his wife Candice Warner and daughters Indi and Ivy after day five of the First Ashes Test. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Many different systems had been trialled in the past.

Allan Border banned wives and girlfriends during the groundbreaking 1989 Ashes tour in an attempt to build a stronger bond between players.

Australia won that series four nil.

But at least one player blamed losing series in 2005 and 2015 on the constant presence of families.

In his autobiography, former Australian keeper Adam Gilchrist conceded it was an issue for some.

"A guy would go out to dinner with his partner and hear bad things about someone else's partner … it ended up some of the guys were suffering from their divided loyalties," he wrote.

Laura McGoldrick, Rachel Khawaja (Usman Khawaja), Amy Finch (Aaron Finch) and Natasha Stoinis (Marcus Stoinis) at Lord's Cricket Ground during the World Cup. Picture: Instagram
Laura McGoldrick, Rachel Khawaja (Usman Khawaja), Amy Finch (Aaron Finch) and Natasha Stoinis (Marcus Stoinis) at Lord's Cricket Ground during the World Cup. Picture: Instagram

Langer said the players' partners had been around at stages of the World Cup and would be again throughout the Ashes series.

"Gone are the days, like in 1989, no-one was allowed on tour, to where we are now, it's a nice balance," he said.

Edgbaston centurion Matthew Wade, who flew to England just days after the birth of his second child in June, said it was also hard work for those left at home.

The left-handed Tasmanian said he could not wait for his wife and two kids to arrive.

Wife of Matthew Wade, Julia Wade with daughters Winter, 3 and Goldie Wade, seven weeks, after Wade hit a century on Day four of the First Ashes test in England. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Wife of Matthew Wade, Julia Wade with daughters Winter, 3 and Goldie Wade, seven weeks, after Wade hit a century on Day four of the First Ashes test in England. Picture: Zak Simmonds

"It will be good to see them. She's a star, I don't know how she does it," he said of his wife, Julia.

"There's a lot of Face Time, the challenge here is 15 minutes at the start of the day and again at the back end, that's about all you have got, half an hour while she is trying to nurse one and dress another.

"It's something I haven't seen before and something I am going to have to get used to."

Six players, including Warner, Smith, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Usman Khawaja were part of the World Cup squad and now playing in the five Test Ashes series.

Only Starc, who didn't play the first Test and Khawaja are part of the tour game in Worcester.

The full squad will travel to London straight after the conclusion of the match on Friday to begin preparing for the second Test, which begins next Wednesday.